Probably half of my relationships started off as just friends with benefits. Every time one of these casual relationships would begin, I would swear "This time, no feelings!" Fast forward a few weeks or months, and it had either ended because someone wanted more, or it had turned into a relationship. While this definitely can work out, most of the time it was a casual thing to begin with for a reason. So, knowing what to do if your FWB falls for you is actually a really important part of being in a casual situation like this. That’s because, as Brenda Della Casa, a career and relationship coach and author of Cinderella Was A Liar, tells Elite Daily, a FWB situation leading one or both people to start feeling more for their "friend" happens all the time. "Regardless of how committed two people are to the FWB rules, there are very few times when sex stays just sex for both people involved in these situations. Whether out of curiosity, loneliness, confusion or sincere desire, it’s likely that, eventually, one of the parties will find themselves wanting more," says Della Casa.
What should you do if your casual adult times buddy seems like they are falling for you? Here’s how the experts say to handle this all-too-common dilemma.
How to know if your FWB is catching feelings.
If you begin to suspect that your once-chill FWB is becoming a lot less chill about the dynamic because they want something more, there are ways to know for sure, according to the experts. Della Casa says, first and foremost, they are just going to want more of you in general. “They may begin to ask to spend more time together, buy you gifts or cards to show they are ‘thinking of you,’ contact you more often throughout the day or you may find the nights together change into something with more cuddles and pillow talk,” explains Della Casa.
Laurel House, celebrity dating coach and resident Sex Expert for My First Blush, tells Elite Daily that if you want to be sure how your FWB is feeling, be on the lookout for partner-like behavior. “They act like a boyfriend/girlfriend, even though they say that it’s really just casual. When words and actions don’t align, you have to wonder what the feelings beneath really are.”
Connell Barrett, a New York City dating coach, is the founder and executive coach at Dating Transformation, agrees that when an FWB starts acting like they’re your partner, it’s because they want to be your partner. “When they start pushing for activities that committed couples engage in: wine-and-dine dates, weekend getaways, getting together with friends. Also, calling ‘just to talk’ or hear your voice before bed is not what FWBs do,” Barrett tells Elite Daily. “Ditto, if [they] start sending ‘good morning’ or ‘good night’ texts, or any texts with heart-eye emojis. Cuddling after sex is fine for FWBs. Cuddling on the couch while binge-watching The Bachelor? Welcome to Relationship Land.“ But the sure sign, Barrett says, is that they start to take an interest in the other people in your life. “The deadest of dead giveaways is when your FWB makes demands on your time or asks emotionally-charged questions like, ‘Who is he/she?’ or ‘Why haven’t you called/texted?’
What to do if you don’t want anything more serious.
If you’re getting the hint that your hookup buddy is looking for more, the question becomes: What do you want? If the answer is nothing serious, then the experts say it’s time to break the news to your FWB — gently but honestly. “You need to be clear about how you feel and stop all physical contact from that point on- even if they say they can handle it. To continue to have sex or even kiss is unfair to them,” says Della Casa. “Physical relationships, even just cuddling creates biological responses and releases Oxytocin which is a bonding hormone. Respect your friend and yourself enough to do the right thing and end this aspect of your relationship. Then, take some time apart to reset expectations,” she explains.
You can be clear about what you are feeling without being harsh or cold, says House. Her advice is to address the situation in a positive way. “[Tell] your FWB ‘I really love the relationship that we have and how casual and easy it is. I feel comfortable and relaxed when we are together … and I really want to make sure that we are on the same page, because sometimes I feel like we might have different expectations and feelings. How do you feel about me and this and us?,” suggests House. Once they’ve had the opportunity to share what they are feeling, she says to lay out how you feel so that there is no confusion moving forward. Barrett adds that it’s important to be empathetic, as well. “Remember those times you developed feelings for someone and they weren’t returned equally. It stings. So nod to the ‘F’ in FWB and be a good friend,” she says.
What to do if you’re open to having a deeper connection.
There is also the possibility that your FWB’s feelings make you realize that you too are starting to feel like there is the potential for something more than your casual connection. If that’s the case, it’s time to get honest with both yourself and your “friend” about what you are feeling. “Before you communicate your feelings to your FWB, make sure that you have clarity with yourself,” says House. “Is this truly something that you want to try out? Are your feelings beyond hormones and passion? What is it about your FWB that makes you want more? Is there truly enduring potential? What is it that you need in a relationship, and does your FWB really satisfy those needs? Be honest with yourself first. And then be honest with them,” she says.
Della Casa agrees. “You’ve likely been compartmentalizing your experiences and relationship so it may be a good idea to do more integrative things together,” she says. Her advice on how to move forward is to just go ahead and lean into acting like you would normally act if you were really dating. “Hang out with each other’s friends, cook together, take walks together and figure out how you both feel organically as any new couple would do,” advises Della Casa
Ultimately, the best way to handle the changing dynamics in your casual relationship is just to be honest about it — both with your FWB and with your own heart. The first step is to figure out what you really want and then act accordingly. If it’s to develop a deeper emotional connection, great! Follow your heart. However, if you’re just not on the same page, it may be best to just let the person down easily and end the “benefits” so that they don’t get even more wrapped up in something that can’t happen. After all, you’d want the same if the situation were reversed. Like Barrett said, don’t forget the “friends” part of the FWB.
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